‘Jeopardy!’: LeVar Burton Makes Costly Error in Guest Hosting Debut

by Clayton Edwards

Jeopardy! fans have wanted to see LeVar Burton host the show for a while now. In fact, days after Alex Trebek passed away, one fan started a petition to get Burton on the show. At the time of writing, over a quarter of a million people have signed the digital document. At the same time, this hosting gig has been Burton’s dream job for years. His stint as the host of Reading Rainbow proved his hosting prowess as well as his passion for education. He, and many others, see the job as the natural progression of his career.

Monday night, that dream came true for LeVar Burton and his supporters. He finally stepped behind the Jeopardy! lectern. The episode marked the beginning of his guest-hosting stint. However, the memory will be marked by a couple of pretty big losses. For one, Patrick Pearce set the record for the lowest Jeopardy! score in history with a devastating -$7,400.

Before that, though, Burton made a mistake that cost one contestant $600, according to Popculture.

LeVar Burton’s Costly Mistake

It all started when LeVar Burton gave the clue, “Overthrown by the U.S., this Panamanian dictator was convicted in Miami of federal drug and racketeering charges in 1992.”

Matt Amodio buzzed in. However, he was slow to answer. With the timer running out, he finally answered, “What’s…Noriega?” That was the correct answer. However, Amodio was out of time. Unfortunately, LeVar Burton replied, saying that the answer was “wrong,” when he should have said that Matt ran out of time. 

That doesn’t seem like a huge mistake, right? After all, Amodio wouldn’t have gotten the money for the answer anyway. Well, that may have caused the next contestant, Kathleen McHugh, to answer incorrectly. She buzzed in and quickly answered, “Who is Samosa?” That cost McHugh $600. Pearce, who went on to set the record for Jeopardy!’s lowest score, gave the correct response.

Righting a Wrong

Now, there’s no way to know how much LeVar Burton’s mistake influenced McHugh’s incorrect response, if at all. However, after the commercial break, Burton announced that they were going to make it right, just in case.

LeVar Burton told McHugh that he had some good news for her. Then, he went on to explain that he had mistakenly told Amodio that he was incorrect when he was actually out of time. He added, “…it might have misled you into giving an alternate response,” so, they fixed it. The $600 she lost was returned to her. This brought her total back up to $800.

We can’t judge LeVar Burton too harshly. After all, it was his first day at his dream job. At the same time, there is so much riding on his performance. So, of course, he was a little nervous. It happens. We’ll wait and see how he does for the rest of his stint.